This morning, as I write, I was leading a devotion at a church I participate in. We are working our way through the Bible, covering a chapter each day. At present we are reading Job (pronounced ‘Jobe’) which is the name of a book/person close to the middle of the Bible.
Job has three friends that visit him after they find out he has experienced extreme adversity.
That sounds nice and caring, except their contributions are mostly judgemental and accusing. Their minds come from a proud place of thinking they know better and attempt to callously correct and “fix” Job.
Not only are these so-called “friends” wiser in their own minds and wrong in their judgements, they had little or no rapport with Job as they engaged him.
If building and maintaining rapport could be valued quantitatively on a scale of 1 – 10, with 10 being the best, Job’s “friends” were off the scale in the negative. They had very little connectivity with Job. In fact, their incorrect beliefs, thinking and behaviour were damaging to what relationship was initially present to be considered friends. “Warning! Warning!”
So, What Is Rapport?
Rapport is pronounced ‘ra pôr’. It has a silent “t”.
My Collins ‘Australian Pocket English Dictionary’ defines “rapport” as derived from the French word ‘portare’ meaning, to carry; referring to harmonious relationships, especially of a sympathetic kind.
In essence, having rapport is about me “carrying”, being considerate of but not necessarily assimilating and implementing, the thoughts/beliefs/perceptions/feelings of another for the purpose of building and maintaining a caring relationship with that person.
Rapport is the highest quality of receptivity liberating the sender to communicate from an optimal depth of heart, the receiver capturing that same message.
I can identify with the notion of “carrying”. I get a picture and an understanding of actually carrying a bag.
Is a bag inconvenient? Yes. Is it weighty? Sometimes it might be. But I carry it for the purpose of the quality caring relationship that is to be had.
The more inconvenience I can handle, the faster and more effective I am at establishing rapport.
This is a learnt thing like building up to lifting heavier weights or running a further distance. Some just catch on faster than others.
Notice this bag of rapport that I hold with another person is external to me. In other words, to have good rapport, I do not have to take on board the beliefs, perceptions, thinking or behaviour of the person I wish to care for. Of course, if there are any attributes shared by the other person, I can select which ones I wish to make my own.
And in the case of partnered relationships, assimilating the sentiments of the partner has elevated importance as you become a successfully unified working couple.
10 Great Rapport Ingredients.
There are many reasons why we engage in relationships. They are as many as the types of relationships we may have or desire, be it with self, God, family, neighbours, work, sport, group or significant other.
I invite you to consider and reflect on these 10 facets of building caring connectivity.
Attitude: This is key. The more I wish to fulfil the other’s needs in the relationship through our connection, the more effective will be my rapport with them. It is being other’s focused. The reverse is also true. As I invest in relationship, I will reap rewards from them for my efforts. Being rewarded should never be the “carrot” in building rapport with others.
Approachable: positioning one’s self physically and mentally to engage another. How would this comfortably look like for you? Be mindful of people’s personal space. Look for signals. Remember, it’s not about you.
Openness: presenting a persona that is pleasant and attractive to the person you seek; usually neat and clean, presenting front on to engage.
Focused: This is being 100% fully present and not distracted. Turn up ‘Respect’ to “MAX”.
Listening: It is vital to be all ears to capture every morsel of information shared. The greater the rapport, the deeper will be the conversation. Valuable detail cannot be missed. Aim to remember. Ask questions to assist a pace that helps you “get the picture”.
Eye Contact: Maintaining eye contact lets the other person know you are ‘tuned-in’ and not likely to be distracted as they open up to share vulnerable things from their heart.
Understanding: It is vital that what is shared is not processed in your mind to judge or give new meaning or interpretation. Every attempt is made to “putting yourself in the other person’s shoes” and to be “on their page”.
Matching and Mirroring: These are terms to describe methods of identity with, which create strong unconscious connectedness with the other person.
Matching is copying aspects of the other person’s attributes un-noticeably so they are not seen as mocking. For example, you may order the same meal, drink your drink at the same rate, subtly copy arm and leg positions, match voice tonality, select words, cadence and volume. Possibilities are numerous. The incredible thing is that though hopefully not picked up consciously by the other person, their unconscious mind doesn’t miss a thing, and creates a sense of unknown bonding with you.
Mirroring is even stronger in creating this unconscious connectedness. Mirroring is copying the other person’s movements as if you were their reflection. For example, if you were sitting opposite them at a table and they put their right elbow on the table, hand supporting chin, you would do the same with your left arm. Your drink would also be in a mirrored position.
Interest: Demonstrate and maintain active interest by asking questions for detail or clarification.
Feedback: This is reiterating back to the sender in the conversation what you understand from what they said. This does two things. It confirms, perhaps with some tweaking, that you heard and understood correctly. Secondly, it adds to rapport as the sender of the message gains confidence in your ability to listen, respect and be “on the same page”.
I invite you to consider preparing a small card the size of a business card or a “Post-It” note, and design a summary of the 10 Great Rapport Constituents, to place in your wallet, purse, mobile phone case or on your home mirror, as a memory jogger for a time as you join me in growing in caring relationships and extravagant love.
Practise and hone these rapport-building skills with your closest friends. And have fun doing so.
Please be encouraged to send me your feedback, questions and thoughts as you reflect on and apply any learnings.
Until next fortnight, warm regards as I invite you to join me in the fun and pursuit of loving extravagantly.